The novels' size is a bit daunting because there are just that many
, yet within the first handful of chapters in Eye of the World, I was sucked into the world. The world-building and character development is incredibly rich. Each society/country has its own unique culture, beliefs and customs.
The series has a wide variety of characters who manage to polarise the fandom, but even hating some characters (like Rand, for me), there will be others you treasure (Moiraine, Birgitte, Mat, Min, Perrin). Even disliking the main character
should not put someone off the series. There are good points in deeply flawed characters (Tuon, Berelain, Logain). There are those you you start off hating and eventually love due to marvellous character development (Nynaeve, Aviendha).
The magic system is interesting, with various items and locations not directly relatied to the magic system, but still 'magical'. The villains are suitably scary, with a variety that keeps the reader engaged. Aside from baby-killing evil, the books also highlight human flaws- lust for power, jealousy, laws and moral righteousness. And within these groups (Seanchan, Whitecloaks, Forsaken, etc), there are characters that are more than just villains.
The fact that the books keep so many plot threads going is a strength or flaw depending on your personal taste. Inevitably, some end up as Shaggy Dog Stories
, but most of them will keep you eager, ending in a climactic event. Sometimes the twists turn out to be obvious - the identity of the Dragon Reborn shouldn't be a shock. But there are some that are a complete and utter suprise, and will have your heart in your mouth.
Of course, the books have their flaws, the main ones for me being - filler, poorly implemented romance storylines, lack of vital communication between characters/groups, and Mars And Venus Gender Contrast
and related annoyances. Thankfully, for the majority of characters, most of this boils down to throwaway comments and random moments of idiocy.
On the whole, these books are well worth reading, and easily some of the best fantasy novels around. Despite the author tragically dying partway through the series, the books remain excellent, and Sanderson stays true to the story. Seriously, The Wheel Of Time
is well worth the investment in time, money and bookshelf space!